Care of the Brain

Q. Okay, Doc. I know I was born with a good brain. But I don’t get this emphasis on “challenging mental stimulation” and some of the other stuff you talk about. What’s the “real deal” here?

Q. My friends have been on my case because I drink an alcoholic beverage (usually a beer or two or three) every night after work. I need it to help me relax and unwind. I’ve also been gaining weight and I’m not sleeping very well. My doctor told me, “Stop drinking alcohol every night with its ‘empty’ calories.” He said a small amount of alcohol might help me go to sleep but studies show that it doesn’t help me stay asleep and may contribute to poor-quality sleep overall. I’ve decided to switch to a couple glasses of wine instead. That’s better, right?

Q: I don’t get it. I heard that lemon and limes may be good for the brain but they are acidic foods, for heaven’s sake, and aren’t we supposed to be leaning toward alkaline foods?

Q. Do you really think that aluminum exposure makes any difference to one’s brain? Should I stop using antiperspirants? Should I throw out my aluminum pans? I’m confused!

Q. I was told you don’t use diet drinks or sugar substitutes. I’m sure they can help me lose weight!

Q.  I read the Point to Ponder in your Spring Brain Bulletin. I can relate to the writer who said, “This cannot be correct. I never wanted to be overweight.” Everyone in my family is obese (“fat” as some put it so rudely), so there’s really nothing I can do about it except to develop a mindset that “big is beautiful.” 

Q. What in the world is Biophilia? It is a brain disorder?

Q. Today my brain feels totally bowed down with everything in my life and the chaos in my environment. I need a metaphor to help me breathe. Any ideas?

Q. I’ve heard you talk about “booting up your brain with breakfast” but I don’t get what the big deal is. What does it matter whether or not I eat breakfast?

Q. I recently heard you say something about taking care of your brain "by design." Whatever does that mean?

Q: Is concentrating at work enough to keep my mind healthy? 

Q.  I read your comments in the last Brain Bulletin about wine and supposed benefits to the heart. But what about the brain? Doesn’t wine or other mild alcoholic drinks help the brain to relax? I mean loads of people drink in moderation.

Q. I usually pack on some extra pounds around the holidays and then spend the next 10 months trying to divest myself of them. How can I change that?

Q. How does watching horror movies and slasher films affect the brain, or do they?

Q. My friend and I are having an argument about how much water we need to drink to prevent brain shrinkage. My friend says ten eight-ounce glasses. I grew up being told I needed eight eight-ounce glasses. Please settle this once and for all.

Q. We just saw a news flash about a study that reported eating three scoops of ice cream first thing in the morning increased alertness in the research participants. My kids now want it for breakfast instead of oatmeal and fruit. What do you think?

Q: What is something small I can do to improve my brain today? 

Q: Is there anything you can do to improve your sleep?

Q. Can you give me any benefits for taking time every day to meditate? I’m a busy person!

Q. What about the concept of mental exercise?

Q. Do substances such as nicotine and marijuana really affect the brain or body long term?

Q. I've attended your seminars several times and enjoyed the information you shared. Each time I've asked to meet with you privately to get your advice on a serious problem. Each time you've said, "I do not take personal clients, neither do I give advice." You said it graciously but the bottom line is that you turned down my request for help. So I am trying email because I have a serious problem and I need your advice. If that doesn't work, I'll try the phone next. I mean, what does it take for me to get some advice from you? I do not want to go to a stranger and cannot afford to pay for advice.

Q: Have you heard anything about a study that identified links between household physical activity and brain health in older adults?

Q. I heard you speak about water and the price of dehydration. Drinking plain water is sooooo boring to me. Why can’t I drink the many “fancy” waters now on the market?

Q. A friend of mine recently told me that playing a musical instrument is more stimulating for the brain than simply listening to music. Is there anything to that?

Q. At an Alzheimer’s support group I mentioned that I read aloud to a family member when I visit. There was a lively discussion about reading aloud—it benefits the person doing the reading but does it benefit the person being read to if they do not comprehend the words, or does hearing the words read to a person stimulate brain activity?

Q.  My neighbor keeps telling me to start drinking red wine with dinner “because it is good for your heart, and a happy heart is a happy brain.” Is there any research about this?

Q. What is this Relaxation Response I keep hearing about?

Q. My cousin says she was diagnosed with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Q. How much alcohol can I drink “safely” so there is no negative impact to my brain?

Q. I get plenty of sleep and I am still depressed. How come?

Q.  Recently I read about a whole host of potential problems that are connected to inadequate amounts of sleep. I’m getting up there (will be 63 next month) and don’t sleep well and don’t remember details as well as I used to. Do you think there is any connections between sleep and memory?

Q. I typically read at night and fall asleep, if I do, about 2 o’clock in the morning and wake again after just a few hours of sleep. Someone told me the other day that I should be getting to sleep by 10 o’clock at night. Is there any evidence for this recommendation whatsoever?

Q. How can I slow down brain aging so I live longer?

Q.  Recently I heard the acronym CTE. I have heard about TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury but not CTE. What is it?

Q: I am considering going vegan—although am not sure exactly what that means. The rumor has it that you are vegan. Do you have any resources that explain the trend and the benefits? Thanks for your help.

Q. I’d like to do a better job of managing my weight this year and there must be something my brain can do to help. Please list some factors that might contribute to mismanaging one’s weight.

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